Fewer than one in 37,500 people are bitten by venomous snakes in the U.S. each year, amounting to 7–8,000 snakebites. The University of Florida Department of Wildlife and Ecology estimates that a person is nine times more likely to get struck by lightning than to get bitten by a snake.
But as in the case of 11-year-old Benjamin Smith, who was bitten by a diamondback rattlesnake — one of the most venomous snakes in the country — two weeks ago in Florida, one of those rare snake bites can be very difficult to counteract. Benjamin required 66 vials of antivenin in the week following the bite, and eventually needed 80 vials to treat multiple relapses.
“Children bitten by small rattlesnakes are usually treated with 10-12 vials,” said Dr. Ralph Martello, a pediatric resident who treated Benjamin. “We’re continually watching him. He’s doing a lot better now.”
Doctors said Benjamin was lucky to have access to the antivenin right away, because it must be used within 12 hours of the bite.
The boy hopes to use the skin of the 5-foot-long rattlesnake to make a wallet.